September 27, 2000

Rules to Play By

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Every four years, the world gets together to honor the Gods on Mount Olympus by holding the “Olympics.” We run, jump, swim, dance, and undertake the stupidest “sports” (solo synchronized swimming) for the amusement of those above us. With Hippias of Elis (founder of the Olympics) as their messenger, the Gods have decreed certain immutable, irrefutable, seemingly unbreakable rules which have been open to interpretation over the years — a set of ten commandments, if you will:

1. Thou shalt have no more golds than me.

In the original days of friendly competition and having olive branches as awards, this commandment made no sense. Scholars had a tough time deciphering the statement. To make sense of it all, they began awarding gold to the winner.

Unfortunately this defeated the idea of the “friendly competition,” as countries went to all costs (billions of dollars and counting) to win the most gold. No longer is it about just getting together for a nice cold glass of water, putting on sandals and taking a quiet 100–meter stroll. It’s about in–your–face aerodynamic running suits, trash talking, golden shoes, pumping steroids and earning the title of “World’s Best. . .” whatever.

Zeus must be angry.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is above.

And so the Olympic Rings were born.

3. Thou shalt not take NBC’s name in vain.

Bow down to NBC! The ruler of all channels, the bringer of all hope and bad comedy. Do not desecrate the good name of the peacock who punishes us with tape delay and never–ending features on losing athletes. Sacrifice your good mind for their bad sports coverage and worse ratings.

Thank you Gods, for NBC.

4. Remember opening ceremony day and keep it holy. It will be good. Real good.

Most scholars admit that this commandment is hard to break. And with modern–day razzle dazzle laser light shows and increasingly brilliant homages to the past, there is always something for everyone. Remember Mohammed Ali? That image of a young fighter entombed in a fading body, raising his spirits for all to see is still etched in our collective minds. Heart warming to say the least.

5. Honor thy predecessors.

Especially Jesse Owens and Nadia.

After originally scheduling thank–you speeches after every event, scholars realized that six months was a little too long for the Olympics.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Scholars have given exceptions to the Chinese ping-pong team and the “Dream Team” which continually maul opponent after opponent on the courts and tables. In fact, if they don’t kill, then there’s something wrong with them [see game vs. Lithuania].

7. Thou shalt not commit false starts.

Poor Doug Christie. The guy never learned. You can’t win if you’re going to cheat like that. Cheating is bad. Especially in the finals. In front of 6 billion people. Four years of hard work down the tubes because of one little flinch. Control yourselves, athletes.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Unless you’re playing the Cuban baseball team. In which case the only way you’re going to get around the bases is by stealing every chance you get.

Exceptions are also occasionally given to the U.S. soccer team, which somehow steals a game here and there every few decades.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The scholars were and remain thoroughly confused.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s gold.

Yes, including you, Canada.

Archived article by Sumeet Sarin